The Secret of How Elite Athletes Build Confidence


oes every successful athlete have a bullet-proof confidence? I believe that in order to be successful both in sports and life, you must have confidence in yourself, however, it can be considered a relative term when it comes to comparing the strengths and weaknesses within an athlete.

I don’t get nervous in any situation. There’s no such thing as nerves when you’re playing games. – Shaquille O’Neal

What do I mean by that? Have you ever held yourself back from acting on something you have a feeling you can’t perform it as well as someone else? Let me give you an example. Say you are a basketball player and according to your own opinion, your strength is in doing layups and your weakness in say free throws.

When it comes to doing layup drills, you tend to just keep doing the same way as you have always been doing because you know you can get the balls in if you do that same way. You are afraid of doing the layup in another style or position because if you do so, you run the risk of not getting the balls in as much as the original style that you have always been using.

Yes it’s about looking good, but most importantly, subconsciously you think that if you try something new, you do not have that confidence that the balls will enter the net more than half the time. This is an example of what I mean by holding back and it’s a huge problem prohibiting talented players like you from stepping up in your game.

Do you also know that top athletes have the same feeling as you do? So what’s the difference? They have the courage. It all starts with having that self-belief and confidence mindset that confidence will be built over experiences.

Elite athletes know for sure that they will show weakness, they will fail at times, they can try and try over and over again yet they can’t score. But ultimately, they know that they get better at it the more they go through it, because as the process repeats, they learn new things from each step, then they improve upon it the next try, and again the next time.

As they go about that, their confidence account starts to fill up, from possibly zero to maybe about half, and more over time.

There’s always a lead time for you to prepare before any competition. So say you are competing in an international meet six months later. You don’t just wait for that competition day to arrive and fight it out and expect to win. You have six months to prepare, and that’s the time when you have a great plan all mapped out to not just get yourself physically ready, but to fill up your confidence account.

If your confidence level six months back is like zero, you have six months to build it up to a hundred percent, it’s possible!

Throughout these six months, what successful athletes do is to do things that they are sure they will feel unsafe if they perform them during the competition. So think about yourself actually entering the competition ground right this moment.

What is the area which you have the least confidence in and you know you may have to face six months time? Back to the basketball example. Say you are not familiar with faking a pass and you need to do that to get past some opponents.

So practice that time and again right now all the way up to when your competition starts. You must take action on anything that you fear that you know you will need to face in the competition. That’s what this preparation time is for.

It’s only when you take action in face of fear, your fear literally disappears. Take bold action and you get a boost in your confidence.

People are not born with confidence. Maybe there are people who look confidence. But everyone has their own confidence account to keep track off. And every athlete has to be accountable for their own account to be ready for their games.

Your Turn

How about you, do you have a secret sauce to boosting your confidence bank? Tell us about it right here.

Photo of Shawn Marion by Danny Bollinger

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